Another step for local journalism

Some of our readers may have noticed that the past couple of weeks — and this week — we’ve included in our print editions a letter from the owners of The Lakeville Journal Company. Well, actually, we know that some of you have noticed, because we are already receiving responses and support proving it. Thank you for reading the letter, and thank you to all  who have contributed.

During the past year, our owners and staff and many interested community members have done research and given much thought and discussion to what the next steps should be for The Lakeville Journal Company and its publications (The Lakeville Journal and The Millerton News and more). What should the model be? Other news organizations had gone nonprofit; or stayed for-profit but pursued a membership model like the one we did last year; or they have done a hybrid, remaining for-profit but creating a nonprofit foundation that would help support the news side of the company. 

An additional challenge in 2020 for many nonprofits has been dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which made survival extremely daunting — and sometimes impossible.  Our company qualified for a PPP loan/grant, so that despite losing more than 30% of advertising (for good reasons, during the coronavirus pandemic) it retains a good measure of financial stability. 

Last year at this time, The Lakeville Journal, The Millerton News and www.tricornernews.com, which you know as your local and locally owned news sources, reached out to the community asking for what we called at that time “membership support” to help this independent media company survive. At that time, it was indeed a struggle for our survival. Since then, a lot has happened. But the result is that the company is in a much more stable position as we move forward into 2021. What must happen now is ongoing serious consideration of the future of this company by the ownership and staff, readers and supporters, as we seek a conclusion to what model might best work to ensure our survival going into the next year and beyond.

After that consideration, the company is entering 2021 with the same general model we used in our pre-2020 initiative, but calling those who take part “community contributors.” This is simply to differentiate between the longtime board and executive committee, the company’s owners, who are referred to as “members.” There has been a cushion of time given for the next decision, because in addition to our PPP loan/grant, our readers also gave generously over the past year, not only taking us through 2020 but into 2021. 

So why are we continuing the for-profit model if the company is stable for the near future? Because we don’t want to get into an emergency situation like the one we were in at this time in 2019. The way that local news is suffering in general throughout the country, it is far too likely that the challenges of the marketplace could again become too much for this little media company to survive. And as we heard from readers when we did the surveys last year and since that time, this area needs local news coverage and would suffer without it. We are very committed to keeping local news here, and will be flexible and creative with solutions every step of the way in order to be sure it continues.

Thank you again to all who have supported us, and to all who continue to support us. Without that support, your local journalism would not be in your communities right now. But The Lakeville Journal Company, which includes The Lakeville Journal, The Millerton News, www.tricornernews.com, Compass, TriCorner Real Estate and other publications, is here, grateful and highly motivated to remain, precisely because of the community support that came to our aid when it was critical. We take your trust very seriously and are now taking every measure to be sure local news will be part of the Tri-state region for years to come.

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